Equity investors pay heavily for Byco’s ‘maths error’
7 May 2015
In a manner typical of sentiments-driven stock markets, Monday saw the profit-conscious equity investors at Karachi Stock Exchange (KSE) incurring huge losses due to, what they claim, a “misleading” earning announcement made by Byco Petroleum Pakistan Limited (BPPL).
The petroleum company, though conceding to have made a “maths error”, denies its correlation with the already declining price of the stock. Having ended 16-paisa down at Rs 11.63 Tuesday, BPPL rallied up Wednesday to Rs 12.42, its upper circuit. The front regulators at KSE have taken notice of Monday’s irregularity and might penalise the listed firm if found guilty of alleged manipulation of its share prices.Moreover, some of the individual investors also intend to write a complaint letter to the Exchange demanding cancellation of the very transaction and refund of their lost money. It was around 10am on Monday when investors, present in the trading hall, claimed having heard an announcement that Byco declared a net profit of Rs 414.54 million, 0.42 paisa earning per share (EPS), for the quarter ending on March 31st. These positive financials, apparently, induced some retailers to make some capital gains.
Muhammad Rizwan rushed to grab 12000 shares of BPPL. Another retailer, a client of Creative Securities, requesting not to be named, claimed to have bought 100,000 stakes. Mohammad Yaqoob Habib was the third small investor to have narrowly escaped an imminent loss by buying, but swiftly offloading some 5000 shares of the company. This rally in the scrip didn’t last long as at around 2:15pm, to the sheer disadvantage of investors, another announcement clarified, what Habib said, a “mistake” in the earlier statement. “The first announcement notified a 39-paisa profit that took price of the scrip up by about 30 paisa,” the investor said.
After second announcement the stock shed Rs 1:30 to hit the five per cent floor, Habib recalled. The volatility in the intraday trade in BPPL substantiates this claim as the stock, Monday, was first seen climbing to Rs 11.90 level and then receding to the session low Rs 11.36 with the turnover closing at 9.48m. Hearing the first erroneous declaration, Rizwan bought the stock at Rs 13.10, a price which came down to Rs 12.05 after the second announcement.
“How come you make such a price-sensitive mistake on stocks market where trading is carried out on second-to-second basis,” wondered Habib. The investor said hundreds of companies listed at the Exchange announce their financials every quarter, but without any mistake. Aatiqa Lateef, a BPPL spokesperson, came up with a different account of Monday’s happening. “The error was a maths error related to earnings per share in the third quarter but irrelevant as the error had no bearing on share price – cumulative numbers were correct and remain the same,” she told Business Recorder.
The share price, the spokeswoman said, was increasing on “rumours” that the company was announcing profits for the nine-month period. “When brokers heard rumours that it was only for three months, they began selling off on past Thursday,” Aatiqa said. The trend continued downward on Monday with no relation to “maths error” despite profit announcement.
Both accumulated and consolidated numbers were conveyed to KSE were “reported correctly” on May 4, she said. “Any error in calculation was related to the quarter’s earnings and are not correlated to the decline in share price which began a steady fall on Thursday, April 30, and continued its decline at the onset of the markets opening on Monday, prior to the disclosure of BPPL’s financials,” she insisted. There was no notification announcing loss as the company only had profits for this quarter.
This, however, was not the case for the company’s results for nine-month period, July-MarchFY15, during which it posted a net loss of Rs 1.24 billion that translates into Rs 1.28 loss per share (LPS). Compared with 2014’s corresponding period’s Rs 2.75bn loss or LPS of Rs 2.81, even these numbers were reported to be good. The investors are in no mood to accept these justifications and the one, wanting not to be named, is all set to write to KSE demanding that action be taken against the firm and investors’ losses be compensated.
Claiming that the relevant regulations provide for no such refunding to the investors who were trading mutually and not directly with the company, KSE’s chief financial officer, Ahmed Ali Mittha, said the Exchange had taken notice of the happening. “We have taken up the issue with them,” he told Business Recorder. The CFO clarified that while a company secretary notifies the financial results to KSE, the latter’s role was confined to disseminate the same as it is. As Mittha said, the “maths error” could earn a “penalty” for the BBPL in case the company was found guilty of deliberately making a “misleading” announcement.